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How to deal with your patient’s emotional state after Alzheimer’s diagnosis

Receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s affects a person psychologically and emotionally, disturbing their thoughts and responses. They might experience a wide range of emotions and may feel depressed or sometimes relieved. Recognizing and responding to their emotional needs is crucial for coping with such a situation.

The impact of Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

A person recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is likely to experience a wide range of emotions such as grief, anger, loss, fear, shock, disbelief, and even relief. Sometimes people may have positive responses, feeling relieved to know what is wrong or glad that they may be able to plan for the future.

Some people may find it challenging to deal with these feelings. Receiving a diagnosis confirmation might lead to anxiety and depression. They could be anxious about the future, worried about confusion and forgetfulness, and unhappy about how the disease affects others close to them.

The people surrounding the person will also experience different emotional reactions. It is critical that the person living with Alzheimer’s and those around them both feel comfortable expressing their emotions.

Caregiver Tips

  • Do not disregard the person’s troubles. Instead, listen to them and let them know you care.
  • Live in the present and avoid dwelling too much on what the future might or might not entail.
  • If the occasion is right, a sense of humor might be beneficial.

Emotional impact on the patient

Emotional responses frequently vary for people with Alzheimer’s. They may have less control over their emotions and verbal expression. For example, someone may overreact to situations, experience sudden mood swings, or feel agitated. They can also appear unusually cold or indifferent.

Caregivers often find it challenging to adjust to these changes. It may be beneficial to remember that these symptoms are due to detrimental changes in the brain. The loss of factual recollections or deterioration in mental clarity can cause someone to react to a situation more emotionally than expected.

It’s critical to look behind the words or actions you observe and consider the emotions the individual could be attempting to convey. Unmet needs can also be the root of strong emotions. Caregivers should try to identify these requirements and, where possible, address them.

Effect on self-esteem and confidence

People with dementia may experience insecurity and a loss of confidence in their abilities. They may not trust their judgment and feel they are no longer in charge. Due to their diagnosis, they may also suffer from the negative impacts of stigma and social “demotion” (not receiving the same treatment as others). Their self-esteem may suffer due to the effect on their physical and mental well-being, financial situation, employment status, and interpersonal relationships.

Nevertheless, some people experience new interpersonal relationships due to their diagnosis through engagement in activities like joining a class or support group. Some people can manage chronic health conditions better because they have high self-esteem.

Caregiver Tips

  • Give the person a lot of support and praise and highlight their achievements.
  • Make sure people have enough time to engage in activities they enjoy or that serve as a source of motivation.
  • Try to be as encouraging as possible when the person makes a mistake.
  • Encourage people to create new social connections and retain current ones. Organizing social gatherings with friends and family, joining interest organizations, and promoting conversation can help.
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